Are you a victim of racism? Lodge your complaint on the new app

19 March 2019 - 15:07 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Busisiwe Nkosi of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation explains on Tuesday how the public can use the Zimele Racism Reporting App (ZiRRA) to learn about and report racism-related incidents.
Busisiwe Nkosi of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation explains on Tuesday how the public can use the Zimele Racism Reporting App (ZiRRA) to learn about and report racism-related incidents.
Image: Nonkululeko Njilo

Reporting racism is now just an app away, and South Africans are being assured the complaint will be assessed by an experienced human rights team.

At an event at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on Tuesday, marking Human Rights Month, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) endorsed the Zimele Racism Reporting App (ZiRRA), which was piloted a year ago by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

Zimele is a Zulu word which translates to "stand up for yourself", and this is the motto and reasoning behind the app. ZiRRA not only educates people about racism, but also allows racism to be reported through the app.

Its development comes after research showed an increase in racism-related incidents across the country.

The SAHRC said racism-related complaints made up a big chunk of complaints it received from the public.

"This year marks 25 years into our democracy but unfortunately as the SAHRC, I can assure you that racism is still an issue we deal with and in fact, it constitutes the largest number of complaints that we received based on our last trends analysis for the year 2016/17," said the commission's Gushwell Brooks.

The app, according to Busisiwe Nkosi of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, allows people to report all forms of racism and attach any documentation, recordings or footage to serve as evidence that will strengthen the complainant's case.

Gail Smith of the SAHRC said the initiative will not only allow for incidents to be reported but will also educate the public or what constitutes racism – as it is sometimes misunderstood.

"I think a point that is missed about racism in SA is that it is a function of inequality, and as long as inequality persists, racial discrimination will continue. There will always be an imbalance as long as inequality doesn't get addressed," said Smith.  

The SAHRC said in a supporting statement that with an estimated 22-million South Africans having access to smartphones, it viewed the ZiRRA app as a suitable mechanism for people to use to assert their rights.

Nkosi said the app was sensitive to gender and religion and for people who did not want to conform to societal standards. However, Smith said it was compulsory for complainants to enter their age group to get a sense of where the problem was.  

The app is free and can be downloaded on various platforms. 

"It takes less than five minutes to submit a complaint and it comes through to us and we assess it," said Nkosi.


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